The quadriceps (or quads), describe the four muscles located in front of the thigh. Quadriceps muscles control straightening and extending of the knee. They are used in climbing, jumping, or rising from a seated position. It is important to maintain strength training exercises for the quadriceps, as they will help to tone thighs and prevent knee injuries. Though strengthening the quads in order to tone thighs, and create a lean muscular look for the upper legs is important, one must also remember to stretch the quads in order to prevent injuries (primarily knee), and also to keep these muscles long and flexible. Listed below are three popular quad exercises known to tone and strengthen this muscle group:
Squat: 1. Begin with feet directly under hips and hands by your sides. 2. Keeping the majority of your body weight under your heels, begin to sit down as though sitting on a chair. Keep your back upright, and bend down as low as you feel comfortable. Pause and return to squat. Remember to: Do not allow your knees to extend past your toes. Only allow the knees to bend to a 90 degree angle, no lower. You can add free weights for intensity.
An advanced, and more intense version of a squat is a Jump Squat. I this exercise, you will begin with feet separated and hands reaching through the legs. Just as in a squat, bend down as if sitting in a chair, and then jump straight up into the air, arms reaching straight up overhead.
Lunge: Begin with feet directly under hips, hands by side. Take one step forward with left leg, taking opposite knee down so that it almost touches the floor. Pause for a second. Lift back up with feet together, and reverse leg. Remember to: Just as when we do a squat, do not allow front knee to extend past toes, and allow for a 90 degree angle, when the front leg is forward. Most effective when doing lunges, is 12 reps on one leg, and then switching to the other leg. Free weights can be added for intensity.
Adductor Squeeze: Begin lying on back, knees are bent to 90 degrees. Place a ball between your knees. The actual exercise simply consists of squeezing the knees together, pausing, and releasing back to start. You can experiment with different speeds and reps for this exercise. Try to make a goal, a minimum of 50 reps.
So try not to forget to work your quads and incorporate these exercises into your daily workouts. They will help to: give you a better all-around body proportion, and build strength in your upper legs so that you can be more powerful when running, swimming, or even just walking!
-written by Victoria Arrigo, Fitness Assistant